A California father rescued with his two teenaged sons on their camping trip from wildfires said Wednesday he knew the out-of-control Creek Fire was big and coming close.
Just how major and threatening wasn't clear until his family was out of harm's way.
"Where we were at ... we had no idea how big the fire was or how much was going on down here to help organize rescues and how many people were stranded," Joe Ebright told NBC's "Today" show from his home in Clovis, California.
The annual Labor Day weekend outing with his sons took a dangerous turn shortly after it started.
The Creek Fire erupted early Friday night and by Wednesday morning it had consumed more than 163,000 acres with no containment, authorities said.
"The smoke was so thick we knew we needed to get out of there because we didn't know where the fire was," Ebright said. "But we had no idea of its size or its exact location."
The three were among hundreds of other trapped campers, trying to maintain morale as they waited for rescue.
"There was a lot of prayers and (we) just kept out hopes up," Ebright's son David Angulo said.
They were finally reunited on Tuesday with wife and mother Lisa Ebright, after the National Guard airlifted 360 campers to safety.
"What really was an eye opener was when we got home and got to talk to family and watched the news and (saw) what was really going on — how big of an event this actually was and to see what our family was going through while we were gone," Ebright said.
Lisa Ebright said they can't go camping again until purchasing a satellite phone, and Joe Ebright promised that's now tops on his shopping list.
"We're doing well, we're happy to be home, happy to be all together again and be out of that fire," the dad said.